Southwark Green Party pay tribute to the many campaign groups and individuals who have managed to get important concessions in the Elephant & Castle development plan. Residents, traders, students, housing activists and support groups have worked tirelessly and deserve everyone’s thanks.
However, the concessions did not include suitable protections for existing traders, nor is there enough truly affordable housing. As such, we were dismayed to see it voted through.
We firmly believe that those who voted in favour have not paid 'due regard' to the equality impact. The Latin American community, who have made the Elephant a vibrant, welcoming home, will be massively affected. Many small business owners fear they will never recover.
The loss of the Coronet, which brings huge diversity of music to the area, and the inadequate plans to temporarily rehome the bingo hall and bowling alley will contribute to the social cleansing of our BAME communities and loss of facilities for older people.
We will be supporting any legal effort made to address these equality concerns, and urge the Mayor to use his powers to improve both the amount of social housing and the mix of affordable housing. 35%, with at least half social, should be a minimum standard, not a maximum.
Finally, in light of Islington Council successful legal challenge on viability, we call for a wholesale change of approach within Southwark Council to the issue of viability. Developers can no longer claim that a scheme is 'unviable' when they have overpaid for land. There needs to be a clear statement – if your current plan can not provide policy compliant housing, then you need a better plan.
The fight for a fair deal for traders and residents will continue, and we will be standing alongside all those who work to achieve this.